Kia, Hyundai Thefts Now National Problem
Chicago's auto thefts up 767%, Seattle up 620% as Milwaukee's scourge spreads via social media.
An epidemic of stolen Kia and Hyundai vehicles is no longer just a Milwaukee problem.
The social media video platform TikTok has finally done what many long expected would happen: spread the issue to other cities. The “Kia Boyz” phenomenon is now a Milwaukee export.
Milwaukee first started experiencing the problem in fall 2020. By 2021, more than two-thirds of vehicles stolen in Milwaukee were made by Kia and Hyundai and more than half of the thieves caught were children. The city had more vehicle thefts than Chicago.
Now Chicago is catching up. Year-over-year vehicle theft in the Windy City is up 767% according to CBS.
The Seattle Police Department reports a 620% year-over-year increase. Omaha reports a 600% increase. In St. Petersburg, FL 41% of vehicles stolen are made by Kia or Hyundai. Vehicle theft in Norfolk, VA spiked 35% in one month. Progressive is declining to insure the vehicles in Denver, the one city Milwaukee officials previously identified as experiencing the problem. Thefts in Denver are up 160% from 2018.
A search of Google News for “Kia theft” gives what appears to be an endless stream of news articles about theft increases.
Milwaukee is now rolling out bait cars and a vehicle sticker program in an attempt to slow the problem.
Vehicles vulnerable to theft are those without an immobilizer in a chipped key (an immobilizer is found in push-button ignition setups common in new vehicles). The vulnerability is present in many Kias made between 2011 and 2021 and Hyundais between 2015 and 2022.
Kia and Hyundai both have donated free steering wheel locks to the Milwaukee Police Department for distribution, but social media is littered with posts of people who have had their vehicles broken into and the locks removed. Similarly, owners of vehicles with immobilizer keys or stick shifts have seen their vehicles broken into, but not driven away.
In Milwaukee, entrepreneur Jon Goldoff offers a $150 phone-based solution that functions as a Bluetooth kill switch. It won’t stop your car from being broken into, but it will prevent it from being stolen.
The Milwaukee Police Department is expected to brief the Common Council’s Public Safety & Health Committee when the council resumes meeting in September.
A class action lawsuit against the manufacturers is still pending in Milwaukee County Circuit Court, one of what are now many such suits across the country.
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- Milwaukee Hopes To Be Bellwether In Kia/Hyundai Suit - Jeramey Jannene - Mar 22nd, 2023
- City Will Sue Kia, Hyundai Over Repeated Thefts - Jeramey Jannene - Mar 21st, 2023
- AG Kaul, 21 Other States Demand Kia, Hyundai Address Thefts - Jeramey Jannene - Mar 20th, 2023
- Software Update Could End ‘The Kia Boyz’ - Jeramey Jannene - Feb 15th, 2023
- Council Members Blast $500 Fix To Hyundai Theft Problem - Jeramey Jannene - Oct 3rd, 2022
- Milwaukee Eighth in Nation for Vehicle Thefts - Evan Casey - Sep 16th, 2022
- Kia, Hyundai Thefts Now National Problem - Jeramey Jannene - Aug 17th, 2022
- MPD Tries New Tactics For Vehicle Thefts, Reckless Driving - Jeramey Jannene - Jul 21st, 2022
- Interviewing The ‘Kia Boyz’ - Jeramey Jannene - Jun 7th, 2022
- City’s Auto Thefts Up 132% Last Year - Edgar Mendez - Mar 30th, 2022
Read more about Kia and Hyundai Theft Epidemic here